Ski Lesson at Eldora

When most people think of Colorado, they probably think of skiing and snowboarding, and for good reason. In order to fit in culturally, it’s practically a requirement to go skiing or snowboarding a few times each winter (at least it seems that way). For me, that meant I needed to learn how to ski.

Now, I had skied twice before in my life, both last winter, once at Spirit Mountain outside Duluth, Minnesota, and once at Tussey “Mountain” outside Boalsburg, Pennsylvania. The only instruction I had was from Alex when we went to Spirit Mountain. Those first two times were part fun, part frustration, mainly because I had difficulty figuring out how to turn, and therefore had trouble controlling my speed. On the crowded, narrow green slope at Tussey, I even ran into a couple people that day. Not good. I knew that I’d be best served by getting an official lesson at one of the ski resorts out here in Colorado.

Because I’m planning to go skiing several times, I decided to buy some of my own equipment. What several people advised me to do was get my own boots, even if I didn’t get anything else. By purchasing boots, I can get ones that fit my feet well, unlike rental boots, which usually aren’t great quality and don’t fit terribly well. So the REI here in Boulder had a winter clearance sale last week, at which I got a pair of new ski boots on sale for 33% off at $300 (reg. $450). I had initially planned on cheaper boots, but they simply didn’t fit as comfortably. Skiing’s not a cheap activity, but if I’m going to invest in equipment, I may as well make good investments. I had my eye on a pair of new skis at REI that were also 33% off, but by the time I decided to pull the trigger, they were gone. Oh well.

Then I thought I had a line on a pair of used skis from a friend at church, but on Friday night I got the run-around from multiple places while trying to get the bindings adjusted to my new boots and newbie skiing ability. Because the model number on the bindings is highly stylized, there was some confusion on whether they were recalled or not. But anyway, on my second visit to REI that evening, they determined that those bindings, even though they’re only three years old, are neither recalled nor indemnified by Atomic. Basically, because Atomic has advised people not to ski on those bindings because they’re “too old,” most ski shops won’t do any work on those bindings. It seems like a money-making scheme by Atomic to me (and to the people at REI, by reading between the lines), since bindings cost hundreds of dollars and these are only three years old. Anyhow, I’ve decided not to buy these skis (or any Atomic skis, for that matter) as a result. I’ll keep looking for other deals elsewhere. As it turned out, not having my own skis only cost me $5 up at Eldora because of how they do their lesson/lift ticket/equipment package, so that wasn’t a big deal. When I’m not getting a lesson, however, renting equipment is not cheap.

So on Saturday I rode up to Eldora (about 25 miles west of Boulder) with my roommate Randy and one of his friends. It was a fantastic day weather-wise up there, with bright blue skies and temps around 40 degrees. I didn’t bring my camera though, since I would’ve had to leave it in the car all day anyway. Once I get better at skiing so that I’m not falling so much (and get a pocket-sized camera or smartphone), then I’ll start taking some pictures on the slopes.

Randy and his buddy went skiing/boarding together on the blacks while I went to the morning “yellow” lesson. Yellow is one level above never-ever skied before, and that was the right level for me. It was a two-hour class with two other students, so we all got a good amount of attention. He started us out with the “wedge” and “wedge turn” on a very shallow slope (not even the bunny slope). Then we went down the bunny slope a few times. My first time down I fell several times, and the instructor told me to concentrate on keeping my upper body relaxed and still. And voilá! My second time down I didn’t fall at all. After a few bunny hill runs and improving wedge turns, we went down greens a few times. There the instructor was trying to teach us parallel turns, by picking up or sliding the ski we weren’t cutting the turn with. I frequently fell while trying to do that — picking up my ski just didn’t feel natural to me, so I mostly tried to maintain control with the wedge and wedge turns down the greens (which was exhausting). At any rate, by the end of the lesson I could tell I was getting better and gaining more confidence, so the lesson was really valuable for me.

After a lunch break I went back out to the greens by myself to get in more practice. Eventually I noticed that on the steeper parts when I was going faster, I was naturally doing the parallel turns by sliding my foot most of the time, without even thinking about it. That realization made me pretty happy! Even so, I still fell 1-2 times on average on each green run, which isn’t too bad for a beginner like myself (and with only a single half-yard sale, haha). I tried a blue run a couple times, but that was enough steeper that I promptly fell four or five times on my first attempt. Green runs are definitely where my ability level is at right now, but I’m totally fine with that. I accomplished what I wanted to that day: getting noticeably better and more confident at turning/controlling my speed, and getting fairly comfortable on green slopes. I still have trouble turning on the steepest green terrain, but hey, I’m learning.

After that day at Eldora, I was very tired and sore, but now I feel much more confident and far less apprehensive about skiing. I’m still cautious, but I definitely have less apprehension than before. And I’m looking forward much more now to the weekend at Keystone with friends from Calvary in mid-March. 🙂 Also, on Monday Eldora just came out with a deal where any pass or lift ticket from any other ski resort will get you a free non-Saturday lift ticket at Eldora, so if that’s still going on after the Keystone trip, I’ll definitely fit in a free day of skiing! Now that I’ve gone skiing once out here, I finally feel like I’m taking at least some advantage of living in Colorado in wintertime!

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